Wayne Swan used to lobby for the investigation of The AWU Scandal - what's changed?
Wayne Swan's entry in the PowerIndex says Swan was a:
"...first-term MP who arrived in Canberra in 1993. Swan had been a Brisbane academic who alternated stints as a lecturer with adviser roles to senior ALP figures Bill Hayden, Mick Young and later Kim Beazley, with whom he'd work again after he lost Lilley in 1996. A loyal deputy of the powerful AWU, he became Queensland party secretary in 1991 after overseeing Labor's return to power in 1989'.
Swan was certainly active with Bill Ludwig in the AWU in the mid 1990s. Media figures from the time recall Swan pushing stories on Bill's behalf. This one is typical I'm told, with Bill apparently keen to see police pursue his former running mate on the AWU leadership ticket Bruce Wilson.
This was 16 September, 1995 - 4 days after an anonymous Melbourne lawyer's departure interview and 8 months before the Commonwealth Bank advised Ian Cambridge of Wilson/Gillard's crowning glory the AWU-Workplace Reform Association
Back then, "well-informed sources" Swan and Bill Ludwig apparently wanted The AWU Scandal properly investigated. What's changed men?
COURIER-MAIL, Edition 2 - FIRST WITH THE NEWS
SAT 16 SEP 1995, Page 026
BATTLE FOR A UNION'S HEART
By: SOUTHORN E Source: QNP
W ARFARE within a union is the most complex of battles: fou ght in a
maze of allegiances where running mates can change overnight; where
bitter enemies can become firm associates in the cause of pragmatism.
But this is not the case in the fight between Queensland union
legend Bill Ludwig, the Australian Workers Union national joint
president and state secretary, and his rival, the up-and-coming Steve
Harrison from NSW, the AWU national
At stake is control of a key union within the ACTU hierarchy, and
in Labor's right-wing factional politics.
The AWU (formerly Australian Workers Union-Federation of Industrial
, Manufacturing and Engineering
Employees) has more than 160,000 members in some of Australia's
biggest companies _ mining, sugar, tourism, construction, local
government, transport and the public service. Its motto insists it is
Australia's No. 1 union, with the slogan ""Unity is strength'', plus a
logo of a pair of hands shaking across a map of Australia.
But in the war between Ludwig and Harrison, the notion of unity has
gone out the window while the logo would more accurately feature a pair
of boxing gloves.
The opposing camps have been at each other's throats since the
amalgamation of the AWU and FIME three years ago.
""It's a huge conflict of ideology, a total difference of style,''
Harrison said. ""We have merged an industrially
based union with a politically based union; all the other issues
are manifestations of that.''
He describes his battle with Ludwig in the context of a union
struggling to find a new identity.
""Each amalgamated union comes together with diverse views and
different histories,'' Harrison said. ""There is a sorting-out per-
iod until you establish a new identity. Each (of us) is putting
forward the appropriate style to operate
""The person who wins that argument
will determine what the super-union will be.''
Ludwig rejects this: ""When we came together, it was never my view
that either side would prevail
Harrison says he has ""never been interested in status or exerting
political clout that comes with the job. That contrasts with AWU style
where they are incredibly autocratic
Ludwig scoffs at Harrison's non-political claims. ""He has been
well trained in law at Macquarie University and with the Jesuits. His
sister is in the NSW Cabinet, and he says he's not political.''
Ludwig accuses Harrison of plotting against his old FIME boss,
well-respected secretary Harry Hurrell, shortly before Hurrell died in
office. He also links Harrison with the National Civic Council, the
Catholic activists who infiltrated unions in the 1950s to fight
communism, a move which precipitated Labor's Great Split.
Harrison was hired by Hurrell and others with NCC links, and FIME
was formed out of the old ironworkers union controlled by the NCC to
combat the then-communist metalworkers.
But Harrison denies any link with the NCC, and so does the NCC
""That is bunkum, I established my own career path,'' he said.
One well-informed AWU source said that as the contender Harrison
""over-reached himself'' when he tried to discredit Ludwig by publicly
accusing him and his main ally, AWU joint secretary Ian Cambridge, of
""presiding over the greatest trade union debt in Australian history''
before union elections early this year.
The allegations were basically wrong, and Ludwig said so at the
time. Harrison's former FIME union base was responsible for much of the
debt which left the amalgamated union with an operating deficit of $4
Harrison was forced to issue a public apology and retraction of the
claim against Ludwig and Cambridge, after Ludwig initiated legal
action. A short time later, an Ernst and Young audit confirmed that
FIME branches and some AWU branches were financially stretched.
Ludwig's Queensland AWU asset-rich branch emerged unsullied from
the audit, just as it did in 1989 when the Cooke inquiry into
Queensland trade unions found nothing against it.
""We have never seen their FIME balance sheets,'' Ludwig said.
""Ernst and Young were very critical of that.''
So far Harrison has achieved little more than a bloody nose in his
bid to topple Ludwig, widely recognised
as the power behind Queensland Premier Wayne Goss. Even one of
Ludwig's most bitter enemies in the Harrison camp, AWU Victorian
official Bob Smith, refers to Ludwig as the ""Emperor
of Queensland''. But he also says that Ludwig's days of
""dictating to AWU branches and members in other states'' will soon be
over. Ludwig admits he could be hanging on to control of the AWU
national executive by as little as one vote, but his power in
Queensland is unassailable. The AWU Queensland branch is by far the
biggest, and Ludwig is contemptuous of Smith's ultimatum.
W HILE the public brawling has undermined the credibility of th e
ACTU's super-union amalgamation pol-
icy, the looming federal election _ where union forces will be focused
to help the ALP _ may prove to be the circuit-breaker, assuming
the courts are unable
to keep the AWU combat
Some in the Harrison camp claim that without control of the AWU
national executive, Ludwig's power at ALP conferences, where the AWU is
a major affiliate union, would be dramatically reduced.
One telling sign of the heat of the fight has been the move by
on both sides to use a police fraud probe into missing money from
secret Victorian AWU bank accounts to discredit each other.
Ian Cambridge last month called in the National Crime Authority
after Bob Smith and others discovered that an official who had
been in the Ludwig camp, Bruce Wilson, was implicated in a scandal over
more than $150,000 missing from AWU bank accounts.
Police are expected to conclude preliminary investigations next
Wilson ran the AWU's national construction branch, established in
February to, among other things, try to take members from the AWU's
arch-rival, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union _
another amalgamated super-union, but from the Left faction.
He established a fierce reputation in Perth in the late 1980s and
early 1990s, when he led the hijacking of a gas platform off the
North-West Shelf and ran a bitter dispute against Western Mining.
Harrison and Smith _ who discovered the money was missing from the
accounts last month _ say their initial legal advice was that there was
to lay charges, so they attempted
to deal with it intern
But the acrimony among the union leadership was so deep that a
meeting in Brisbane to try to resolve
the problem ended without a plan _ except allocating a week to
The next day, Wilson and others in the national construction branch
decided they wanted out and applied for redundancies, with support from
Harrison and Smith.
Some of them were paid out, before Ludwig found out and hurriedly
obtained an interlocutory court order against the payments, which will
be ruled on in the Federal Court in Sydney next week.
This week it was discovered that Wilson was linked with the secret
purchase of two holiday units in Western Australia, using up to
$300,000 of AWU funds. The purchase was not for his own purposes
There are also questions about him using a former AWU car with West Australian registration plates in Victoria.
These are, however, unproven allegations, and Wilson has been
unavailable to give his version of events.
The AWU's secret bank accounts in Victoria held money allegedly
paid in by construction companies to support union officials in
election campaigns _ much like big companies donating to political
It also has been suggested that union officials were themselves
paying their own funds into these accounts for the same reason.
Harrison argues that the redundancies blocked by the Ludwig court
bid would have resulted in a much-needed saving in wages, and that
Ludwig himself had at first argued that Wilson's explanations to the
leadership group seemed plausible enough.
Ludwig agrees that Wilson might have seemed plausible at first, but
now that he has learnt more about the situation, he has changed his
mind. He accepts that Wilson is in trouble and is frank about the need
for the matter
to be cleared up by a proper police
Ludwig indicates Harrison is foolish for backing redundancy
payments to officials under investigation for possible fraud.
Ludwig is challenging a national executive vote to approve the
redundancies, claiming Harrison manipulated the numbers against the
The Ludwig camp yesterday claimed it was wrong for Harrison to be a
director of a company administering the AWU superannuation fund. They
alleged that a colleague of Harrison's was a director of another
company which was a major shareholder in the superannuation fund
This major shareholder paid money into the Victorian AWU accounts
under investigation, it was alleged.
Harrison said these were ""absolute nonsense'' allegations by
""desperate men''. He said he had been appointed by the AWU national
executive to the superannuation fund administration company.
The AWU prides itself on a professional business-like approach,
with its staffers in Brisbane frequently derided for being ""suits with
mobile phones'', while FIME is proud of its progressive record of being
in the front rank of the union movement in embracing enterprise
A BHP spokesman said FIME had been at the ""cutting edge'' of
enterprise bargaining in an agreement in 1989 to restructure the
Newcastle steelworks after the plant had been at risk of closing.
ICI Australia human resources manager Ian Cummin said FIME had
struck some of the first agreements, reflecting a ""mature relationship
with management'', about 1989 at the Gladstone chemical
plant and the Botany chem
plant in NSW.
The AWU has been successful in new agreements which have created
better wages and conditions for thousands of tourism industry
But the bank-accounts wrangle and the public brawl between Ludwig
and Harrison smack more of trade-union behaviour from the 1950s.
Both the Harrison and Ludwig camps claim they have the numbers to
control the AWU national executive. Before the fraud allegations, which
threaten to close down the national construction branch and its block
of votes on the executive, Ludwig held power.
Harrison claims that without the national construction branch,
Ludwig has lost control of the executive
. Well-informed sources say Harrison might be right.
The votes issue will be tested soon. It will be a complex argument
over how many votes each state branch is worth, after the union rules
were changed in the wake of financial restructuring, giving the
branches a different weightage for votes.
Harrison says he will fight to the end in the courts to establish
control of the executive and knock Ludwig off his perch.
Ludwig says the national executive no longer has much power, after
the union was restructured in the wake of the Ernst and Young
revelations to make the state branches self-funding and more
Harrison claims the AWU has broken ""every agreement since we
merged with them''. Ludwig has a similar view.
Harrison says Ludwig's faction agreed not to appoint another of
their secretaries to replace former AWU national secretary Michael
Forshaw when he went to the Senate, but they ""put Cambridge in''.
Ludwig says FIME agreed not to run candidates against his team in
elections this year but reneged
ALP national secretary Gary Gray also accused Harrison, in a
solicitor's letter, of reneging on a deal to sell the FIME office
building in Sydney as part of a package with an ALP building.
The ALP threatened to sue for $1 million after that amount was paid
by the ALP to AWU-FIME during complex transactions to try to set up a
deal to sell. In the end, the buildings were sold separately.
Ludwig, Harrison and their supporters continue to seek legal
counsel against each other.
""There will be considerably more turmoil in the next weeks,''
One of Australia's biggest trade unions is tearing itself apart in a
bitter struggle for power. At the heart of the battle is Queensland ALP
powerbroker Bill Ludwig. Industrial reporter Ed Southorn reports
Continued next page
From previous page
BILL Ludwig . . . the union heavyweight is facing a determined foe.
STEVE Harrison . . . "It's a huge conflict of ideology, a total
difference of style'.